At least John McGrath of the Tacoma News-Tribune thinks they do. He starts with a couple of ideas:
Is anybody pondering a nickname for the Mariners’ one-two punch?
Hmmn. If Hernandez is “King Felix,” his counterpart should also own a
title of distinction, something along the line of, say, “General Lee.”
Felix and General Lee. I can see that poster on a kid’s wall, with
Hernandez wearing a crown and Lee dressed up in a 19th-century military
uniform . . . Of
course, there’s always the standard “Fire and Ice,” with Hernandez
appointed as the Fire and Lee as the Ice. That wouldn’t be a stretch:
Felix is animated on the mound, while Lee is a low-key type who keeps
Blah. General Lee suffers from two problems: (1) you go putting someone in a CSA army uniform in this day and age and someone is gonna start complaining; and (2) it’s so, so taken.
I’m also no fan of “Fire and Ice,” because I’ll forever associate that with Bucky and Lee from “The Black Dahlia,” and that book rules so hard that I’m not going to let some random six-runs-in-five-innings outing risk ruining the association for me.
The biggest problem with this is that you can’t go applying nicknames so early in the process. Nicknames need some time to germinate and to grow. You can’t just pick them out in January all willy-nilly. Sure, if nothing reveals itself for Lee and Hernandez by, say, Mother’s Day we can think harder about this. But for now let’s just use a placeholder.
There. That’s done. What’s next on the agenda?
There’s something interesting deep in Ken Rosenthal’s latest notes column. It’s about arbitration, with Rosenthal reporting that the players union believes that all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration this winter.
If you’re unfamiliar with this, it breaks down thusly:
- In mid-January, teams and players who are eligible for arbitration will exchange proposed salary figures. The player says what he thinks he’s worth based on comparable players of his quality and service time and the team will propose a lower counter-figure;
- Generally, the parties then use these proposals as negotiable figures and eventually reach a compromise deal, usually near the midpoint between the two figures, avoiding arbitration;
- If a deal cannot be reached, they go to an arbitration hearing and arbitrators pick one of the numbers. They CANNOT give a compromise award. It’s either the higher player’s number or the lower team number.
In the past, a handful of teams — most typically the Blue Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, and White Sox — employed a “file- and-trial” approach, meaning that they treated the figure exchange date as a hard deadline after which they refused to negotiate and stood content to go to a hearing. As more teams have adopted this approach, there have been more arbitration hearings. As Rosenthal notes, last year there were more hearings than in any offseason for the past 25 years. Now, the union thinks, every team will do this. If they do, obviously, there will be even more hearings.
There is certainly an advantage to file-and-trial for a team. It makes the player and the agent work harder and earlier in order to be prepared to negotiate with the club before the file deadline. It also makes them work a lot harder to come up with a defensible filing number given that, rather than merely being an opening salvo in an extended negotiation, it’s something that they will certainly have to defend in open court. It’s also simple hardball. Teams have greater resources than the players and the agents and it’s less painful for them to pay for lawyers and hearing prep and to conduct the actual hearing. There’s risk to the team, of course — they might lose and pay more than a settlement would’ve cost — but teams are obviously concluding that the risk is worth it.
The only question I have is, if the union is right and all 30 teams will now proceed this way, how was that decided? Everyone suddenly, after several decades of arbitration, simply decided to take the same approach? Or was there, I dunno, a meeting in which the strategy was coordinated? Inquiring minds want to know!